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Things To Do In France
France is a beautiful country in the western part of Europe, ensconced within ancient walls, Mediterranean beaches, medieval architecture and wonders that take your breath away. The French are known for their desserts and wines as much as they are for their cheeses and women. What makes this country a perfect holiday destination for your next summer or even spring break, is the fact that you have so much to do here. From sightseeing of culturally and historically rich buildings to walks down cobbled streets and cafes, the great Eiffel Tower of Paris to the English Promenade of Nice, the beaches of Cannes and Saint Tropez to the stunning island of Corsica. You won’t be able to keep count of the things you do in France.
Stroll through Paris
Paris is the ultimate destination of lovers, agreed. But it is also a mystery for backpackers, solo wanderers and romantics. The whole ‘sightseeing’ and going to iconic places like Eiffel Tower or Louvre are cliches at best if you want to see Paris as a traveller and not a tourist. One of the best ways to do that is take long strolls through this city. Stroll through the Quartier Latin, Marais and other charming neighbourhoods like Île Saint-Louis. You won’t see the popular cathedrals or monuments but get caught up in the beauty of antique chiming bells in churches, cobble-stoned pavements, bookshops that sell first editions and boutiques of real Parisian clothes. You will reach River Seine at this point and can cross it via the Petit Pont bridge or take a ferry to the other side. Other stroll-worthy streets or Paris include Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, Place de Vosges, Rue des Francs Bourgeois and the Rue le Regrattier.
When in France, eat like the French do. And it’s not so difficult, as the French make their food like art. They prepare it by savouring every step and consume it by savouring every bite. They take longer hours (almost three for dinner) to eat. You must start your day here with a ‘light and airy’ breakfast of hot chocolate or tea, rolls with butter and marmalade, croissant of your choice or a flaky pastry. For lunch, Parisians usually like to keep it on-the-go and pick up a falafel roll or a sandwich and eat while walking or sitting by the Seine. See, Parisians have all the time in the world to even enjoy an on-the-go meal. Dinners are rather elaborate affairs and if you want to avoid long courses then ditch restaurants for cafes. Some things you should eat in France are - Baguette breads, pastries, gourmet chocolates, cheeses (best at Laurent Dubois), wines, champagnes and macaroons.
France is a shopaholic’s paradise, if a little bit expensive. Prices aside, the unique things you will find in France you may not find elsewhere. Some of the most coveted shopping in France includes raw fabrics and vintage linens like tea towels, napkins and bedsheets. You may find them expensive in boutique shops but are dirt cheap at flea markets. Also, do look out for bracelets from Merci in Paris, Wines in Bordeaux, Salts and caramels in Brittany and customised perfume in Grasse (Cannes). Two very gourmet food products to take back from here as souvenir are jars of chestnut paste (eaten spread on breads, cakes or crepes) and cooking salts. Finally, for clothes, Paris is the Mecca-Medina of Haute couture and streets like Boulevard Saint Germain, Boulevard Haussmann, Rue Tronchet and Rue Du Bac are your go-to.
Experience the Palace of Versailles
One of the most historically rich places in France, the Palace of Versailles was the royal residence of Louis XIV until the French Revolution. It was never built like a castle but was always referred to as a chateau, as delicate and detailed as one could be. Today it is a museum and such an opulent one at that! The Palace of Versailles is a must-must-visit and don’t miss some gems here like the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Chapel, the King’s Royal Apartments and the Royal Opera House. There are separate Queen’s Apartments as well as Mistress’s apartments. Scan the Gallery of Great Battles and the Congress Chamber to dig deeper into French history.
Cycle around Bordeaux
The Bordeaux region of France is the hub of wines. With its never-ending rolls of vineyards and castles built just to oversee the making of wines, this town just comes alive with the sweet heady fragrance of grapes. One of the best ways to explore this town on your own is to rent a bicycle of your own and just peddle off into the distance. There are many guided tours also available that take you through the famous cycling route of Roger Lapebie bike path in the Entre-deux-Mer region. These winding roads lead you to the Canal of the Two Seas that connects the Mediterranean sea to the Atlantic Ocean. You can also try the Saint-Émilion route that takes you through pastoral villages and Roman roads, along with many rich monasteries and chateaus on the way.
Enjoy the French Beaches
If you thought France was all history and no fun, then think again. Some of the most refreshing pristine beaches adorn the coast of France. From the superb sea-side of French Riviera to Normandy, Brittany and the Bay of Biscay; your summer getaway is perfectly fun-filled on sandy, stony and pebbled beaches that span the fringes of this country. Head to Normandy for the Deauville Beach, famous for the first Coco Chanel shop opened here in 1913. The boardwalk here is amazing, as are the ice creams. Antibes between Cannes and Nice is anther sandy beach for your sore eyes while Pampelonne Beach of St.-Tropez is a glamorous cousin with five-star beach resorts. Other coveted beaches are Palombaggia in Porto Vecchio with its pink sands and Paloma Beach in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula for its Instagram sceneries.
Ski in the French Alps
After sunny beaches, you’d wonder if snow was even a possibility in France? Well, it is and it is in summer too. You would be basking in the Mediterranean sun one day and skiing down the French Alps the next. The ski resorts of Val d'Isère, Les Trois Vallées, Chamonix and Portes du Soleil are renowned for their hospitality and ski training. The mix of mountain village charm, rustic hilly air and perfect powdered snow brings ski enthusiasts here almost all year round. The best time to go skiing though is definitely winters. You can either stay at the resorts or hire a chalet for a romantic skiing trip.
What happens in Corsica, stays in Corsica
The Corsica you saw on comic book pages and movie theatres is very much real, and a thousand times more lovely than on celluloid. The island in itself can be a compete trip, what with all the stunning cliffs and beaches, ruins of castles and ancient houses, cobbled narrow streets and cafes in the city square, as well as the beautiful yachts and ferries that bob up and down on the pristine sea. Visit Bonifacio, a stunning fortified town, explore Bay of Calvi and also check out Kalliste. Ajaccio is the main town and its streets are worth breaking into an impromptu jig with the local performers. Your adventures can begin and end with hiring a car to drive down Corsica’s coastal roads, including Balagne and its villages on west coast, and Bavella Mountains; or the rock pools along the Mother of Pearl Coast (Cote des Nacres).